Pan European Networks - Horizon 2020 - page 229

H O R I Z O N 2 0 2 0 P R O J E C T S : P O R TA L
S P E C I A L F E AT U R E : E U R O P E & A F R I C A
so many of the global, pioneering research
infrastructures based in Europe, we see the
migration of many African scientists to Europe
and North America; we even send our master’s
and PhD students to European institutions
where they have access to research
infrastructure, and many never return home.
“Nevertheless, the SKA is a classic example
that demonstrates that Africa can be the home
to large scale research infrastructures and
actually encourage science and research to
take place on the African continent. Therefore,
we don’t talk about a ‘brain drain’ but rather a
‘brain circulation’ where researchers from
Europe will feel there is a need to travel and
undertake astronomic research in South Africa
because the conditions are so perfect.
“This research infrastructure also acts as a
catalyst towards a variety of astronomy and
related research. Whilst the SKA is an
astronomic instrument, there are many
connected fields of research, including
engineering and ICT. There are also related
economic benefits in terms of the
development of new accommodation facilities
for researchers.
“The SKA demonstrates a key milestone for
South Africa and an opportunity to lead not just
as a country but also as a continent in science
and research. We are encouraging more African
countries to become involved in the project and
build research hubs that will allow us to develop
radio astronomy, physics, chemistry, ICT and
engineering science and facilities.”
With an emphasis on spreading the benefits of
research and innovation internally whilst also
being the location for major international,
collaborative research projects, South Africa is
a key partner in the global science community.
Further benefits will no doubt also be realised
as the country participates in Horizon 2020.
when it comes to supporting developing countries. Whilst the first phase
was mainly funded by the EU, many different projects were undertaken,
not only in South Africa but also across sub-Saharan Africa.
“The key for us is around vaccine development for tuberculosis and HIV/
AIDS, and the joint programme has helped the research activities of some
of our universities, for example the University of Cape Town. There is also
a lot of work around drug discovery for HIV/AIDS and micro-science gel
to help tackle these conditions in women. The South African Government
has been investing a lot of money from the science ministry, and at the
same time we were able to apply and receive extra funding from the
EDCTP for clinical trials.
“This funding has helped us realise new opportunities in regards to
developing ICT and distributing vaccines and drugs. In 2013, the
Department of Science and Technology took a conscious decision to
actually call investors and encourage them to fund research. We have
the political support behind this investment and are happy to be
investing sufficient resources into developing new vaccines from the
research we are undertaking. Such benefits can be felt not only in Africa
but all over the world as we position our health sector at the forefront
of scientific breakthroughs.”
Square Kilometre Array
Due to its geographical location, South Africa is ideally positioned to be
co-host of a core part of the SKA research infrastructure. Located in the
Northern Cape province, key preparatory work has already been
undertaken, including the construction of the MeerKAT radio telescope.
Masoka detailed the background to the country’s involvement: “Before
the final location of the SKA was determined, South Africa participated
in the design process, the development of the management model, and
the funding arrangement for this international project. With our strong
background in astronomy, our country is an ideal science partner.
“Geographically, the radio silence we experience and our location in the
south of the Southern Hemisphere were also key advantages. Yet with
Cecil Masoka
Department of Science
Government of South Africa
2 0 2 0
Looking to the sky:
KAT-7, the seven-dish
MeerKAT precursor
array, was completed in
2010 as part of the SKA
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